(Root) Beer & (Ginger) Ale

Discussion in 'Beer & Ale' started by thsmormonsmokes, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    I just noticed this forum.  I'm not a drinker, but I've dabbled in brewing my own ginger ale.  My old man does a pretty wicked root beer, and I've had moderate success with my ginger ale but I want to take it to the next level because I really love a well crafted ginger ale.  I'm sure some of you home brewers would have some insight for me and maybe you'd like to share.

    My biggest limitation has been the yeast taste and I can't figure out how to get rid of it.  To brew my ginger ale, I basically mix the whole recipe together, then bottle the whole mixture, yeast and all.  Then it goes in the warm garage for the yeast and sugar to do their thing to produce carbonation.  Once it's adequately carbonated it goes into the refrigerator, yeast and all to neutralize the yeast and stop the fermentation process.  

    When it comes time to drink it, you've got to be real careful about how you handle the bottle when you're pouring it.  Move it around too much and you'll stir the yeast up and get a real yeast flavor in your drink, which is not my favorite thing on the planet.  Plus you always want to leave the bottom 1/2 inch in the bottle.  You drink the dregs and you're asking for trouble.  Anyway, I would love to be able to drink the whole thing straight from the bottle because drinks always seem to taste better out of the bottle.  But you really can't do that with this stuff on account of the yeast factor.

    I guess ultimately my question is how do you get carbonation in beer?  If I understand the process right, you leave the yeast in the mix during the fermentation process, but then bottle it without letting the yeast get into the mix.  So how does it get carbonated from there?  (Keep in mind that I'm a good Mormon boy and have tasted beer exactly twice in my life and I don't even remember what it was like, so I couldn't be much more ignorant about it). And is there any way to cross-apply that process to non-alcoholic drinks?  

    If I can figure out how to carbonate it, but bottle it without including all the yeast it will be pretty awesome.  That'd elevate my summer Q game in a huge way.  And I'd love to figure out how to do that with a natural brewing process instead of simply using pre-carbonated water, if that can even be done with yeast.  It seems like the harder it is to do something, the more satisfying the results are.

    Also, I've found brewing yeasts online and have used both dark ale and champagne yeasts with my ginger ale in the past.  Can someone explain the difference, and if there are other options that you think might complement a ginger ale better than those, I'm all ears.  My recipe uses natural ginger root, sugar in the raw, lemon and lime juice as the main flavor agents, if that helps.  I'm thinking about tossing in a light hint of cinnamon my next go around to see how that works.
  2. mdbk82

    mdbk82 Newbie

    Carbonate using a C02 cylinder. I homebrew and got tired of cleaning bottles, and the gunk in the bottom of the bottle. I switched from natural carbonation (sugar and CO2) to carbonating from a 5 lb bottle of CO2.

    At the beernut in salt lake they have a carbonation cap that screws onto a standard plastic bottle. Apply C02 from some sort of regulated CO2 source, refrigerate and after a few days your beverage of choice will be carbonated to the carbonation level of your choosing. Will post a link if I can find it online.


    The product is called a carbonation cap, or Carbonater on amazon. You will need a regulator and some sort of CO2 bottle. If you keep your eyes peeled, could probably put a setup together for a bit less than $50, and it only takes a fwe days (instead of weeks) to carbonate
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  3. I keg too so I force carbonate with CO2. But when bottling I used to use Nottingham yeast. It's very neutral in flavor. With soda I don't know. Never done it. But I think if you bottle with yeast wait 2 weeks and then refridgerate you should be OK. The longer it sits at room temp the more sugar the yeast will eat therefore producing more carbonation.
  4. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    I actually get strong carbonation very quickly with ginger ale.  Much faster than my dad's root beer.  I'm not sure why that is.  Maybe the malt in the root beer mix slows it down somehow.  But we've learned the hard way that you have to be careful about over-carbonation.  It's not only sticky and messy when you leave them in the heat too long, it's dangerous.  My dad was leaning over a batch of root beer one day looking at it and about 5 minutes later heard what sounded like a grenade go off in the garage.  Shards of glass shot everywhere, including a couple that embedded into the spoiler of his car.  He's lucky his timing wasn't just a little worse.  That would have ended poorly for him.  After that happened, we bought a few plastic crates to contain them in the event of a blow up.

    Anyway, my previous batches of ginger ale have reached high carbonation levels as quickly as 5 days before.  

    I've thought about force carbonating, but I think it tastes better when you brew it.  I guess I've got something in me that always wants to do things the hard way.  Maybe I'll add the force carbonation to my bag of tricks anyway.  The more I think about it, I'm not sure there's any way to have the yeast do the carbonating, but then get it out of the finished product.  That might be trying to have my cake and eat it too.
  5. I know a lot of people use the plastic screw top bottles. They don't explode and you can bleed pressure of by just loosening the cap.
  6. bdawg

    bdawg Smoke Blower

    You could always carbonate them naturally up to the point where you are satisfied with the carbonation levels, then put them into a bath of hot water (160F) for about 15 mins to pasteurize them and kill the yeast.
  7. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    I hadn't thought of that.  Might have to give it a try.  If it can neutralize the taste of the yeast any, that would be an improvement.

    But can anyone explain to me how home brewers carbonate their beer when they brew in bottles?  It is somehow through yeast metabolizing sugar, isn't it?  
  8. The beer is pretty devoid of fermentable sugars after complete fermentation. With beer we add about 3/4 cup of corn sugar when bottling. That is enough to carbonate 5 gallons after the yeast eats that amount of sugar. With soda there is a lot of sugar left so the yeast would keep eating until the sugar is gone or stopped from eating somehow. Usually refrigeration does it if it's cold enough. What yeast do you use? Nottingham dry yeast works good for soda. It is very neutral.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
  9. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    I haven't brewed for a couple of summers, so I actually can't remember the brand.  But I do know it's a brewer's yeast.  I've used a dark ale and a champagne yeast.  I just grabbed whatever my dad had lying around from one of his prior root beer projects.  All I know is they're quite a bit better than the root beer we did as a kid.  Back then we just used Fleischman baker's yeast.  That was pretty pungent.

    So if you're brewing your beer, you'll have yeast left over in the bottle in the finished product?
  10. bdawg

    bdawg Smoke Blower

    Yes, you always have yeast in the bottle when you bottle carbonate.  Most homebrewers will also have a lesser amount if they force carbonate but don't filter, and lesser still if they hit the beer with finings like isinglass or gelatin to help clarify before force carbonating. The only sure-fire way to scrub all the yeast out is by filtering.

  11. The yeast is good for you though so I wouldn't worry about it. Unless it's like a 1/2 inch deep in the bottle.

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